'Children of the Mountains' Get Help

Since Diane Sawyer's special, "A Hidden America: Children of the Mountains" aired Friday, there have already been concrete changes in some of the children's lives, thanks to an outpouring of support from viewers nationwide.

Shawn, the 18-year-old football player from Flat Gap, Ky., who believed he had to move away from home to keep his dreams on track, has a chance to play football in college after receiving three scholarship offers from Union College, the University of the Cumberlands and the University of Louisville. He has also received offers of tutoring help and employment.

A local tutor stepped in to help Erica, 11, with her studies. An education fund has been established for her by the UNITE Foundation, an anti-drug organization whose founder became a mentor for Erica. Neighbors have also volunteered to help Erica's family in Cumberland, Ky., repair the fire damage to their home.

VIDEO: Diane Sawyers special launched an outpouring of support and criticism.

A viewer drove all the way from Nashville, Tenn., to Inez, Ky., to see 12-year-old Courtney and to donate clothes to her family, and a California family is sending her the Hannah Montana boots she wants so much.

Dr. Edwin Smith has received donations for his mobile dental clinic, and PepsiCo has reached out to Smith to work with him on dental health initiatives.

Watch "Good Morning America" this week and "20/20" Friday at 10 p.m. ET for more updates on the children of the mountains.

A number of viewers expressed interest in contacting the children featured during the show. We cannot provide the families' personal information, but ABC News encourages anyone who wants to help the children in the story to go through the Christian Appalachian Project (CAP), which is in contact with the families and has set up special funds for each child. This includes a college fund for Shawn. CAP can also collect items such as clothing, food and toys for delivery to the families.

CLICK HERE to visit CAP's Web site or call 1-877-919-9901 or 1-866-270-4227.

Many of you also asked about contacting the Homecoming Church. The church's information can now be found on our list of organizations working in the region. A portion of the proceeds from the DVD of the special will also be directed to charities working in Appalachia.

CLICK HERE for the full list of charities and organizations and CLICK HERE to watch the full show.

Read the story below:

The oldest mountains in America are rich in natural beauty, with their raging creeks, steep hollows and old pines. They are also one of the poorest, most disadvantaged regions in America.

Central Appalachia has up to three times the national poverty rate, an epidemic of prescription drug abuse, the shortest life span in the nation, toothlessness, cancer and chronic depression. But everywhere in these hills, there are also young fighters filled with courage and hope.

Settled by tough pioneers who clawed their way over the Appalachian Mountains to expand America's borders, the region has produced some of the fiercest military fighters the country has seen. Like their ancestors before them, the children of the mountains are born fighters, and for two years, ABC News has documented the unique challenges some of these rural children face as they chase after their dreams.

Courtney, 12, hopes for a home for her and her family.

"We're not like other people, we can't afford food after food after food," she said.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: Kanye West accepts the Vanguard Award onstage during the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on August 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.
Christopher Polk/MTV1415/Getty Images
PHOTO:Parker Posey, Courteney Cox Arquette and David Arquette in Wes Cravens Scream 3.
Joseph Viles/Dimension Films/Getty Images
PHOTO: The probable path of Hurricane Fred is seen in a graphic released by the NWS National Hurricane Center, Aug. 31, 2015.
NWS National Hurricane Center